Skip to comments.Trials for 'bionic' eye implants
Posted on 02/16/2007 4:41:50 PM PST by PlanoMike
A bionic eye implant that could help restore the sight of millions of blind people could be available to patients within two years.
US researchers have been given the go-ahead to implant the prototype device in 50 to 75 patients.
The Argus II system uses a spectacle-mounted camera to feed visual information to electrodes in the eye.
Patients who tested less-advanced versions of the retinal implant were able to see light, shapes and movement.
"What we are trying to do is take real-time images from a camera and convert them into tiny electrical pulses that would jump-start the otherwise blind eye and allow patients to see," said Professor Mark Humayun, from the University of Southern California .
Retinal implants are able to partially restore the vision of people with particular forms of blindness caused by diseases such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa.
About 1.5 million people worldwide have retinitis pigmentosa, and one in 10 people over the age of 55 have age-related macular degeneration.
Both diseases cause the retinal cells which process light at the back of the eye to gradually die.
The new devices work by implanting an array of tiny electrodes into the back of the retina.
A camera is used to capture pictures, and a processing unit, about the size of a small handheld computer and worn on a belt, converts the visual information into electrical signals.
These are then sent back to the glasses and wirelessly on to a receiver just under the surface of the front of the eye, which in turn feeds them to the electrodes at the rear.
The whole process happens in real time.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.bbc.co.uk ...
I've got a blind cousin that would appreciate seeing again.
Hah - goos one.
But this is an amazing innovation.
My Mom had macular degeneration, and laser surgery left her with blind spots, so this development if successful would be great!